Final Report: Health Risks from Climate Variability and Change in the Upper Midwest: a Place-based Assessment of Climate-related Morbidity

EPA Grant Number: R832750
Title: Health Risks from Climate Variability and Change in the Upper Midwest: a Place-based Assessment of Climate-related Morbidity
Investigators: Patz, Jonathan , Mearns, Linda , Anderson, Henry A. , Tebaldi, Claudia , Wahba, Grace , Chipman, Jonathan , Hanrahan, Lawrence , Kanarek, Marty , Vavrus, Steve , Holloway, Tracey
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison , National Center for Atmospheric Research , Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: February 1, 2006 through January 31, 2009
Project Amount: $598,560
RFA: The Impact of Climate Change & Variability on Human Health (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health , Climate Change , Global Climate Change , Health Effects

Objective:

To evaluate the morbidity effects of current weather variability, we consider temperature and precipitation extremes. Based on our prior climate-health studies, we hypothesize that morbidity will parallel temperature mortality trends. To project the morbidity effects of future climate change, we will combine present-day risk factors with high-resolution regional climate model (RCM) fields for the period 2040-2070. Expected intensification of the hydrologic cycle in combination with higher maximum summer temperatures could increase potential health risks from recreational waters. We also assessed the potential health benefits from reduced emissions from a scenario where short car trips (< 5 mi. round-trip) are removed in metropolitan areas in the upper Midwest region.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

  • Both hot days (above 90oF) and very hot days (over 100oF) are expected to become more common this century, based on statistically downscaled GCM output. The increases are projected to be largest in southern Wisconsin and smallest in the north and in regions subject to lake-effect cooling along Lakes Michigan and Superior.
  • The frequency of extreme precipitation across Wisconsin is expected to increase much more than the intensity, based on the statistically downscaled GCM output. Daily rainfalls of 3 inches or greater are projected to become over 30% more common by mid century and 40-65% more common by late century, whereas the magnitude of all heavy rainfall events is supposed to rise by only 10% or less.
  • As for health outcomes, we found genitourinary disorders and self harm to be the most sensitive health outcomes during Milwaukee heatwaves.

For the 30-year analysis of Lake Geneva, rainfall was associated with beach contamination, but only for some parts of the lake. More moisture (precipitation, lake discharge) increased Escherichia coli levels at almost every sampling site. Considering biophysical conditions improved accuracy to predict next week’s E. coli levels compared to surveillance data alone.

  • For CO2 co-benefits analysis be improved air quality and physical fitness benefits of removing short car trips (< 5 miles round-trip), and replacing half of these with bike trips only during summer months, we found the following: more than 1,200 lives would be saved annually and more than $8 billion/year in avoided mortality and hospital costs would be avoided across our study area of the 11 largest cities in the Midwest.

Conclusions:

From our climate downscaling analysis, it is clear that Wisconsin and the broader Great Lakes region are projected to experience more intense and frequent heat waves and more extreme precipitation events. The subsequent health effects could be significant, considering our findings of heat sensitivity for several health outcomes, as well as compromised surface water quality following heavy rainfall events. It is recommended, therefore, that health and environmental officials plan to strengthen adaptive and preparedness measures to account from these current and future climatic stresses. At the same time, our findings of very significant health “co-benefits” from greenhouse gas mitigation in the transportation sector mandates that an integrated approach—considering adaptation and mitigation policies together—is the best policy strategy on health effects of climate change.


Journal Articles on this Report : 9 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 29 publications 14 publications in selected types All 12 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Grabow ML, Spak SN, Holloway T, Stone B, Mednick AC, Patz JA. Air quality and exercise-related health benefits from reduced car travel in the Midwestern United States. Environmental Health Perspectives 2012;120(1):68-76. R832750 (2007)
R832750 (Final)
R831840 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
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  • Full-text: EHP-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Gutowski Jr. WJ, Arritt RW, Kawazoe S, Flory DM, Takle ES, Biner S, Caya D, Jones RG, Laprise R, Leung LR, Mearns LO, Moufouma-Okia W, Nunes AMB, Qian Y, Roads JO, Sloan LC, Snyder MA. Regional, extreme monthly precipitation simulated by NARCCAP RCMs. Journal of Hydrometeorology 2010;11(6):1373-1379. R832750 (Final)
  • Full-text: JHm-Full Text-HTML
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  • Abstract: JHm-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Holman KD, Vavrus SJ. Understanding simulated extreme precipitation events in Madison, Wisconsin, and the role of moisture flux convergence during the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Journal of Hydrometeorology 2012;13(3):877-894. R832750 (2007)
    R832750 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Kucharik CJ, Serbin SP, Vavrus S, Hopkins EJ, Motew MM. Patterns of climate change across Wisconsin from 1950 to 2006. Physical Geography 2010;31(1):1-28. R832750 (2007)
    R832750 (Final)
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  • Abstract: Taylor & Francis-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Li B, Sain S, Mearns LO, Anderson HA, Kovats S, Ebi KL, Bekkedal MYV, Kanarek MS, Patz JA. The impact of extreme heat on morbidity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Climatic Change 2012;110(3-4):959-976. R832750 (2007)
    R832750 (Final)
    R832752 (Final)
  • Full-text: SemanticScholar-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Mearns LO, Gutowski WJ, Jones R, Leung R, McGinnis S, Nunes AMB, Qian Y. A regional climate change assessment program for North America. EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union 2009;90(36):311-312. R832750 (Final)
  • Full-text: Wiley-Full Text-PDF
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  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
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  • Other: Harvard University-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Mearns LO, Arritt R, Biner S, Bukovsky MS, McGinnis S, Sain S, Caya D, Correia J, Flory D, Gutowski W, Takle ES, Jones R, Leung R, Moufouma-Okia W, McDaniel L, Nunes AMB, Qian Y, Roads JO,Sloan L, Snyder M. North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program:overview of phase I results. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 2012;93(9):1337-1362. R832750 (Final)
  • Full-text: AMS-Full Text-HTML
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  • Abstract: AMS-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Uejio CK, Peters TW, Patz JA. Inland lake indicator bacteria:long-term impervious surface and weather influences and a predictive Bayesian model. Lake and Reservoir Management 2012;28(3):232-244. R832750 (2007)
    R832750 (Final)
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  • Abstract: L&RM-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Vavrus S, Van Dorn J. Projected future temperature and precipitation extremes in Chicago. Journal of Great Lakes Research 2010;36(Suppl 2):22-32. R832750 (2007)
    R832750 (Final)
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  • Abstract: SienceDirect-Abstract
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  • Other: SienceDirect-Full Text PDF
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Bicycling, air pollution, physical fitness, greenhouse gases, mitigation, co-benefits, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, Midwest, Health Risk Assessment, climate change, Risk Assessments, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, air quality modeling, ecosystem models, climatic influence, climate related morbidity, modeling, emissions impact, human exposure, climate models, demographics, regional climate model, Global Climate Change, human health risk, ambient air pollution

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.wicci.wisc.edu/ Exit

    http://www.sage.wisc.edu Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report